Stand Up! (and be counted)

It’s 8:35am and my Outlook is ringing at me – time for our daily stand up.

I perform a variety of roles in my team, from Product Ownership to marketing and sales to agile coach. This doesn’t mean that I sit out the meeting and leave it to the devs (we don’t have testers, our devs do that, but that’s a whole other blog post…). No way! I want to know what is going on and see if I can help!

Over the past 12 months I’ve coached over 20 development teams. Some new to agile/lean/scrum, so not so new. One thing that I like to get nailed immediately is the daily stand up.

Why is the daily stand up so important? Why do I need to go? Why do I care what everyone else is doing? Can’t I just email it? Isn’t that what the Kanban is for? These are some common questions (excuses) that I hear.

Here are some reasons and tips to help your team take advantage of this traditional SCRUM discipline.

  1. It gives the team a heads up of what you have been and are going to be working on – I like to answer three questions; Since the last stand up I worked on… Until the next stand up I intend to work on… The issues that I have are…
  2. It gives the team a chance to raise issues to each other – Sometimes sitting in a dark corner with your headphones on “wired in” is not the best way to solve problems. Speak. Collaborate. Listen. Learn!
  3. It gives the team a chance to SOLVE issues AFTER the stand up for each other – Don’t waste others time by going into detail (or showing how clever you are) of how you’re going to help solve some iOS memory leak issues, save it till the stand up is finished and solve it then.
  4. It gives the Product Owner the chance to share vital information, feedback and insight with the team – Yes, that’s what I said, Product Owner. They absolutely need to be there too!
  5. It improves team bonding in only a few minutes – You’d be amazed at what the 2 mins on chit chat whilst you’re stood waiting with a coffee for the last couple of members to walk over can achieve!
  6. It provides the opportunity for stakeholders to come and LISTEN to what is happening in the team – Anyone can come along and listen. If they have any questions afterwards, the ScrumMaster should be on hand to help out!
  7. It provides a mechanism for problems that cannot be solved by the team to be quickly escalated – This is where a great ScrumMaster will come into play to initiate a Scrum of Scrums (or Stand ups of Stand ups).
  8. It can present the chance to have fun within the team! – There are some great games that you can play when holding the daily stand up to keep team members on topic. At McKenna Consultants we throw around a small rugby ball (rugby – scrum, get it?!) to indicate who can talk. Sometimes this can be a good laugh, especially if someone is not paying too much attention! I have worked with other teams who do things such as provide weather reports to summarise how their day have been and how they expect it to be! The book Scrum Mastery has some good ideas of how to “Sex up your Scrum”.
  9. It involves remote team members – Just because you are working with an offshore team in India doesn’t mean you have an excuse! Get them involved. Use Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, whatever you like. Just remember that it is important to actually be able to see them on screen! We recently worked closely with Rocket Matter in Florida on an iPad app project. We installed a couple of clocks in our office and set one to London, GMT and the other to Florida, USA, EST and arranged a daily stand up at a mutually convenient time. Guess what? Despite not actually ever meeting the other team members, we got on great and delivered an amazing product!
  10. Coffee – Do we really need an excuse to make the morning coffees?

When setting up your stand up, you just need to remember two things:

  1. Agree a time and stick to it
  2. Agree a structure and stick to it

The stand up is hugely undervalued and I am sure that your team can get more out of it that you currently do! Start getting more out of your daily stand up and be counted!